Former England cricketer Trevor Bailey dies in fire

Former England all-rounder and BBC Test Match Special commentator Trevor Bailey has died in a fire in Essex.

Firefighters called to a smoke-logged flat in Westcliff just after 0600 GMT found the 87-year-old in the kitchen.

A woman, believed to be Mr Bailey's wife Greta, was rescued from the Crowstone Road flat.

Mr Bailey won 61 Test caps between 1949 and 1959. He has been described as one of England's great all-rounders in a series of tributes.

He played county cricket for Essex for more than 20 years and scored 1,000 runs and took 100 wickets in a year several times.

'Tremendous colleague'

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke said: "Trevor Bailey was not only one of the finest all-round cricketers this country has ever produced, he was also someone who made an enormous contribution to the game as an administrator and as a writer and broadcaster."

Former prime minister Sir John Major said: "One of my abiding memories as a small boy is of Trevor Bailey and Willie Watson batting at Lord's to save the Test match against the Australians.

"It was a superb effort, without which we would not have won back the Ashes in 1953."

Fellow Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld said: "He was a tremendous colleague, a great friend and man I shall miss hugely.

"To work with he was exactly like he was as a cricketer. He was canny and let nothing pass."

Essex County Cricket Club president Doug Insole said he been friends with Mr Bailey for more than 60 years. "We played football and cricket for Cambridge University and were colleagues in the Essex side for about 15 years.

Image caption Mr Bailey's body was found in the kitchen of the flat

"In the England team in the 1950s Trevor was a tower of strength - a great all rounder with a cast iron temperament.

"He was one of a kind and a very sad loss to his many friends."

A statement from Essex County Cricket Club, for whom Mr Bailey played 682 matches, said: "Everyone at Essex Cricket sends their condolences to the family and friends of Trevor at this tragic time."

Firefighters praised

Essex Fire and Rescue Service divisional officer Bob Wahl paid tribute to the firefighters who tried to save him.

"Crews did a fantastic job getting into the property quickly and searching through the smoke to find the woman," he said.

"She was in bed with the door shut and so that's probably what saved her.

"Firefighters carried her out of the property and she was left in the care of the ambulance service.

"Her husband had gone to the kitchen, which is where crews found him. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do."

The fire service has started an investigation into how the fire started, but it is not believed to be suspicious.

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